Saturday, December 5, 2015

AU2015, the day after: I'm still here

The Autodesk Expert Elite Program recognizes individual Autodesk Community members (many of whom are end users just like you and me) who have made extraordinary contributions with helping customers by sharing knowledge, providing community leadership, and exemplifying an engaging style of collaboration that drives a healthy and valuable Autodesk customer community. They share their enthusiasm for Autodesk with their community, as well as representing the voice of the customer back to Autodesk.

As a member of this wonderful group of Autodesk Product Users, I am attending this year's Autodesk Expert Elite Global Summit, normally held after Autodesk University (AU): this is a great networking opportunity as well as a chance to interact with Autodesk Community and Support staff to explore how best we as EEs can extend our abilities and contributions.

The day started at 8:30AM with the official opening and introductions, followed by a very productive schedule filled with Q&As, Round Table discussions, Autodesk staff meetings, Autodesk Community-centric topics of interest to us EEs, support strategies we as EEs can employ to help fellow product software users like you.

And the mysterious Discussion Admin from the Autodesk Forums made an appearance: some say he was wearing a cowl, others saw a Lone Ranger style mask and hat. I simply averted my eyes and have no knowledge of what he looks like, just that he is male with a commanding voice.

So what do you, an Autodesk Software User, get out of this event? Hopefully better support from us EEs at the Autodesk Community and public Product Support forums. Why don't you join us there with your questions, software challenges and more, and see how we can help you. We might learn something new together. is where it all starts.

FitBit Count for the day: 25,742 steps (11.77 miles). Yes, I spent the afternoon and evening walking the strip and enjoying all the sights and lights.


Friday, December 4, 2015

AU2015 Las Vegas: (the last) Day Three

Breakfast. Again. Same as yesterday. And the day before.

XI10614 - The Power of the Autodesk Community
The Autodesk Community serves up answers to millions of customers. Over 27 million customers in the last 12 months have visited the community. Are you an Autodesk Community user? The Autodesk Community shares product-use information that solves potential product issues and promotes best practices to proactively supply customers with the tools and information needed for successful product experiences. Come and join us for an engaging session led by the customer experts known in the Autodesk Community as Expert Elites. These customers will take you on a tour and share their insights to get the most out of the Autodesk Community forums.
Course Objectives: Learn how to navigate the Autodesk Community in its many forms, Learn about setting up user accounts and preferences, Learn how to effectively ask and answer questions, Learn general rules and guidelines of behavior.

The actual experience - An admirable job by four fellow Expert Elites and the Autodesk Staff that manage the forums. I think a little more rehearsal was probably in order, I always zone out if a presenter just reads from the slides being shown.
What I got out of it - Expert Elites are passionate about the Autodesk forums and want as many users to use this free tool for support.

GEN9992 - AutoCAD Super-Duper Click Savers
Learning objectives: Learn how to use some of the most effective tips and tricks that are out there for instant productivity, Learn secrets about AutoCAD software that trump repetitive steps and tasks, Learn how to use fewer picks and clicks and get work done faster on any AutoCAD software platform, Learn how to go from a click slave to a click saver.

The actual experience - So many good quality tips and tricks are offered in this course it's simply amazing. And they are all good, and totally relevant to the 2016 versions of AutoCAD/LT.
What I got out of it - many tips I simply forgot about were highlighted: this time I wrote these down so I would not forget. When it becomes avaiable at AU for all users for free you should seek this one out and download the PDF of the handout.

Expert Elite Summit Kickoff and Luncheon
Objective: Kick-off the Autodesk Expert Elites Summit which will reconvene on Friday, December 4th. Autodesk's Amar Hanspal will be joining the Summit Kickoff as very special guests for an open Q&A discussion.

The actual experience - Executive VP Hanspal introduced several future products that are about to be announced by Autodesk, and reaffirmed that the company is truly 100% focused on mobile and the cloud as the future of the company's software base.
What I got out of it - I enjoyed the real-food lunch and the open honesty from EVP Hanspal about were Autodesk is focusing.

GEN11219 - The Most Dynamic Class on the Block—Creating Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD
Learning objectives: Learn how to create Dynamic Blocks with the following abilities: stretch, mirror, array, rotate, align, multiple insertion points, Learn how to limit block variations through lists and increments, Learn how to apply constraints and parameters to control block behavior, Learn how to implement Block Tables as well as the Lookup Action to quickly select the desired block iteration

The actual experience - This was a very well run class introducing the basics of Dynamic Blocks creation. The instructor covered in one hour what I could not find online as a training resource as a single document or class.
What I got out of it - Quirks in some aspects of Dynamic Blocks creation and how to work around them was of real value. I will be blogging about these and other tips I picked up soon.

IT10908 - Drawing from Experience: Tell All of 4 CAD Managers with Over 100 Years of Experience
Learn from the experiences of this panel of diverse CAD managers (R.K. McSwain, Robert Green, Kate Morrical, Curt Moreno) who are widely respected as leaders in their field. Hear their unique perspective and solutions to challenges faced by CAD managers from organizations of all sizes and backgrounds. Topics include understanding CAD standards, keeping up with rapidly changing technology, managing users, communicating with management and other non-technical people, budgeting, and much more.

The actual experience - An honest discussion about Cad Management, Cad Managers and their bosses, and CAD drafting/production roles were reviewed by all four, each with their own take about each topic.
What I got out of it - These four talented folks offered so many good ideas that I ended up Tweeting about them in rapid fire succession. Check them out HERE look for hashtag #ASK4AUExperts.

11907 - Autodesk University Closing General Session
Closing Keynote: Presented by Amar Hanspal, Sr. Vice President, Products. Like many kids growing up in India, Amar Hanspal’s parents wanted him to pursue what they considered a noble profession: doctor, politician, or even Bollywood star.  But he believes there is a profession just as noble, that of the engineer.  Join him as he celebrates the incredible work of the engineers and designers who solve today’s epic challenges of transportation, healthcare, education and access to clean water. Before you head off to the Closing Celebration, discover how you might use your skills to imagine, design and create a better world.

11920 - Bash to the Future
The After Party Objective: Curious what the future looks like? Then don’t miss the Bash to the Future, AU’s final hurrah. You’ll be transported to another world where you can touch the stars, drink with aliens, and chat with robots. Enjoy games, music, cocktails, and a futuristic feast that’s out of this world.

The actual experience - Way more fun that I anticipated.

AU2016 was announced: Nov 15-17 of next year.

FitBit Count for the day: 11,211 steps (5.17 miles).


Thursday, December 3, 2015

AU2015 Las Vegas: Day Two

Breakfast. Again. Same as yesterday.

GEN10227 - AutoCAD Secrets Exposed
Learning objectives: Learn tips and tricks from other AutoCAD users, Learn to use the newer tools for greater productivity, learn about hidden tips that might take you years to discover, Get exposed to tips that apply to many versions of AutoCAD ranging from 2012 to 2016.

The actual experience - Jeanne Aarhus is a wonderful presenter/instructor and this is the second class in AU that I attended with her. She makes the class quite enjoyable, and even manages to make revealing tips I knew sound most interesting.
What I got out of it - I was reminded of two tips I had forgotten: you can control the spacing between MTEXT columns by dragging the ruler double arrows on the far right, and when you need to select a 1/3 of the distance between two points this command line entry works best 'Cal;Dist(end.end)/3

GEN13037 - Peer into the Future of AutoCAD
Michael Mizuno - Senior Product Manager, Autodesk, Inc.
This class will give you an overview of the future of AutoCAD® . The AutoCAD team will present new technologies, features, workflows, and tools that are designed to improve product knowledge, productivity, and efficiency of AutoCAD users across all industries.

The actual experience - New features of a future AutoCAD version were revealed and they are amazing. Sadly I can't tell you as everyone in the class was required to sign an NDA agreement.
What I got out of it - well, I can't tell you, but it's amazing.

Expert Elite Recognition Lunch
This is an opportunity for Autodesk to thank Autodesk Expert Elite unpaid volunteers for their continuous and valued contributions at the Autodesk public Product Support Forums. Want to know more about the Expert elites Program? Read all about it HERE.

The actual experience - at our table the AutoCAD program director sat with five of us and was a very interesting man to talk with about the future, the past, and the current state of all the software under his umbrella.
What I got out of it - that fuzzy feeling you get when you hang out with peers that are just amazing and the great Autodesk staff that support the program.

GEN11412 - 60 AutoCAD Tips in 60 Minutes
Presented by Lynn Allen - Evangelist, Autodesk
Learning Objective: If you want a plethora of power-user tips, be sure join Cadalyst Columnist and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen as she takes you through a whirlwind of productivity techniques that are certain to improve your everyday drawing life. At a tip a minute, you’ll be sure to discover some top-secret AutoCAD software features that will remove tedium and boost your ability to meet project deadlines. She switches up the tips every year.

The actual experience - Lynn is simply the most amazing presenter Autodesk has, and simply turned this talk into a joyful show to watch and participate in.
What I got out of it - I learnt a tip I did not know: you can get a table to auto-populate and auto-number other cells easily by selecting two cells with numbers in sequence then selecting all the others below them.

IT11008 - Networking Autodesk Products Beyond Z
Learning objectives: Develop a sustainable licensing maintenance plan, Learn how to recognize early symptoms of problems and have action plans ready Learn how to manage license access and borrowing to realize maximum utilization efficiency Evaluate utilization reporting options

The actual experience - OMG, this was way over my head. Way over. What?
What I got out of it - (crickets noise)

IT10856 - AutoCAD Tool Palettes Master Class (Planning and Preparation, Not Perspiration)
Learning objectives: Learn how to create a completely fresh tool palette in a network location, Learn how to create, edit, and save tools onto your networked palettes, Learn how to boost productivity with scripts and macros hosted on your palettes, Learn how to hack your tool palettes without opening AutoCAD.

The actual experience - my fellow EE Paul Munford is an amazing presenter and showed us how he likes to manage, share and develop/innovate with Palettes to control office standards.
What I got out of it - I learnt about a tip: resorting the content of a palette by selecting all, CTRL+X to cut to the clipboard, then CTRL+V to paste.

11905: AUGI Annual Meeting
Objective (yes I am a memeber of AUGI, are you?): This session features the year in review and a look ahead for members of Autodesk User Group International (AUGI). Open to AUGI members and non-members alike, this session culminates in the presentation of the AUGI Wish List - the 10 top product improvement wishes for key Autodesk products. Attendees will hear about AUGI's accomplishments in 2015 and get a sneak peek of the organization's plans for the coming year. And there's a chance to win awesome prizes and Premier and Professional memberships. And of course, everybody leaves with an AUGI Beer mug for the annual AUGI Reception which follows immediately.

The actual experience - Continuing more modestly with the Star Wars theme, the AUGI president and other board members presented AUGI to those that don't know about this user organization, and with some fanfare presented Autodesk with the latest list of use wishlists for AutoCAD.
What I got out of it - a free beer glass.

12449 - AUGI Reception
Objective (yes, I am a member, are you?): Join thousands of members of AUGI (Autodesk User Group International)—the largest Autodesk community—whose motto is “Users Helping Users.” At this reception, you’ll enjoy making connections, comparing notes,  and checking out the latest technology exhibits and activities over a cold beer. Open to everyone, not just AUGI members.

Autodesk University 2015 Blogger Social Meetup Sign Up
Objective: The Autodesk University Blogger Social started ~12 years ago and morphed into a more formal AU Blogger and Social Media Meetup event is now in it’s 8th year will be held jointly with the Autodesk PR, Social Media Team, and Office of the CTO to show our appreciation for active bloggers and influential social media who cover Autodesk products and customers. In past years in addition to beverages and good conversation and networking we have had surprises such as having a Zero G 3D printer to be used in space from Made in Space and the Megabot team and I am working on some surprises this year as well. We might also get a few special VIP seats like we did last year to give away for the closing keynote.

The actual experience - a fun meet and greet experience were I got to meet some of the best bloggers out there.

FitBit Count for the day: 9,248 steps (4.22 miles).


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

AU2015 Las Vegas: Day One

So how do you feed +/-10,000 attendees? in a very big hall. From 6:30-8:00, I joined the others for what is a very basic hotel breakfast that is there to kick start your day.

GEN10224 - AutoCAD Jeopardy (my first class)
Learning objectives: Learn to capitalize on AutoCAD knowledge to help others learn in a whole new way, Extend the knowledge of AutoCAD software’s capabilities.

The actual experience - This was as much fun as I hoped it would be. Set up like the game show Jeopardy, a very long list of quick fire questions and answers were needed for a very comprehensive list of AutoCAD commands, features, variables and functions that the whole class participated in. And there were prizes for correct answers too.
What I got out of it - I actually learned two things that never occurred to me before: "nudge" command works with SNAP distances, plus a good example of when SPACESWITCH command might come in handy.

11906 - Autodesk University Opening General Session
Join Autodesk CEO Carl Bass and CTO Jeff Kowalski as we kick off Autodesk University 2015.

The actual experience - Wow! sensory overload.
What I got out of it - It was fun to attend.

11917 - AU Lunch and Volunteer Opportunity Tuesday

The actual experience - food stations located between exhibitors at the exhibit hall.
What I got out of it - lunch and staring at exhibits.

GEN9638 - Forensic Cadology: When Good DWG files Go Bad
Learning objectives: Learn how to diagnose the cause of a corrupt DWG file, repair a corrupt DWG file, how to find (use) the most current backup file and learn best practices to avoid file corruption

The actual experience - This was an excellent class that offered very detailed instructions and guidelines for file recover methods, ways to try and avoid file corruption, and so much more.
What I got out of it - The methods I already use are still valid, but I was exposed to a better systematic approach that I will use in teh future.

GEN11005-L - The Power of Fields and Attributes in AutoCAD
Learning objectives: Learn how to create attributes and redefine existing attributes, insert fields, insert field with text/mtext, or use with attributes, Learn to use fields for complex calculation using elements property combining with formulas, Learn how to extract attribute/fields from the design data and output as AutoCAD Table or export as Excel or database file.

The actual experience - With AutoCAD loaded on computers for all of us class attendees to use, the instructor's intent was to present a hands on experience in creating attributes, fields, and links to external Excel files and Tables inside AutoCAD. Sadly he was ill prepared, seemed challenged by his own material and overall did little to provide anything warranting an "intermediate-advanced" class.
What I got out of it - Not much. Can I get a refund?

GEN11607-L - Exploring the 2016 Dimension Tools (in AutoCAD)
Learning objectives: Discover core concepts for AutoCAD dimensioning, new dimension tools in AutoCAD 2016, use all options within the new dimension tools, and Learn how to identify the best ways to edit existing dimensions.

The actual experience - This happened to take place in the exact same room as the class I attended before, but with a much better experience. The instructor had three test DWG files ready on each computer, walk us through the new DIM command features in AutoCAD 2016, and was very engaging and was not afraid to answer difficult questions.
What I got out of it - While I did not discover any new features I did not know about, I did learn how to fix a glaring AutoCAD 2016 problem when using Annotative Dimensions and Baseline Dimensions. Now I can go back to drawing these again. What's that fix? I'll blog about it later this month.

12448 - AU Community Reception
Objectives: lasses end the party begins. Join everyone in the Exhibit Hall for the AU Community Reception as they close out day 1 of AU. Take in a bite, a sip, a boogie, and lots of networking with thousands of like-minded professionals from around the world. Chat with AU exhibitors and see the latest technologies at work in the world.

The actual experience - food, networking, hanging out with exhibitors, and overall just a great way to wind down after a long and busy day.

FitBit Count for the day: 14,249 steps (6.52 miles).


Monday, November 30, 2015

AU2015, the day before: Freshman Orientation

I arrived today, the afternoon before AU2015, to complete my Registration, get my access badges, get into my hotel room, and as all new "university" attendees, show up for the Freshman Orientation class held this afternoon.

Las Vegas Airport is a little confusing, looks more like a casino than airport, and depending on where you land you may need to take a train to the main terminal. I just followed everyone off of my plane and was led to where I needed to be to leave the airport.

Ride to Hotel
Getting here you have to decide if you want convenience (Uber or Lyft cars are my first choice), or if like me you want to see a little bit of "the Strip" by taking an airport shuttle ($9 one way), or you want to take an old school taxi cab and pay way much more, or splurge and get a Limo to your hotel (starts at $45/person). I enjoyed the Shuttle ride.

I opted to stay at one of the two recommended hotels, The Venetian (The Palazzo is next door and equally close to the action). You can stay anywhere you want, but you'll have to figure out transportation if you're not into walking over. The place was packed with many AU attendees checking in but this hotel had a great system that moved the process quickly. I got a nice non-smoking room on floor 14 overlooking the pool area.

AU Registration
First thing to do after you drop your baggage in the room is to hop down to AU Registration to get your access badge. Autodesk emailed me a QR Code a couple of days ago and this automated the process: I don't think it took more than 5-minutes to scan my code walk over to get the print-out and lanyard (they required a photo ID to prove I was me first), then walk over to the 'merch" desk and pick up the complimentary AU2015 backpack.

11904 - AU Freshman Orientation 2015
Lynn Allen and others point out events and gatherings that should not be missed, plus get a preview of what’s in store for AU 2015. Well, that's what the intro to the class noted. This is slated to be 90-minutes long with a social/networking gathering afterwards. Lynn Allen was amazing, explained how this huge place works, how to use the AU2015 app, how  to find every event and function scheduled, and generally made us Freshman most welcome. Best 25-minutes of my time here so far.

A guest speaker got up and started talking about VUCA and managed to take a hall full of 500+ attendees to play the Marshmallow Challenge for 20-minutes, their enthusiasm fanned by the allure of $100 gift card for use at the at the Autodesk store. What is VUCA? What is the Marshmallow Challenge? Sadly I tuned out and felt this was a total waste of my time, but the winning team of the Marshmallow Challenge did construct the most amazing 39" tall structure that remained upright for the 15-minutes that I observed it: 3-engineers and 1-construction specialist were part of the team. Bravo!

A heart-warming videotaped story about training prison inmates with Autodesk software for careers when they get out was a nice touching story that closed out the event.

Expert Elite (EE) Welcome Reception
I ducked out 10-minutes before the Freshman Orientation class ended to visit with and attend a gathering of my fellow EE contributors (many are teaching or are participating in events at AU2015) at the Autodesk Forums and our Autodesk Liaison staff. It was good to see some familiar faces and meet new ones. If you are here at AU2015, look for us EEs wherever you are, we all have Expert Elite tags attached to the bottom of our ID cards.
Thanks to the Autodesk team for arranging it all.

It's time to get ready for a long day tomorrow. If you are interested, my FitBit logged 8703 steps today from the moment I stepped off the plane here in Las Vegas.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Autodesk University 2015 (AU2015): why am I going now?

Autodesk University (AU) is the premier learning destination for Autodesk customers worldwide. Learn more about us. Learn from experts and follow industry thought leaders.

That's the tag line you will see when you Google search Autodesk University (AU): clear, concise, and, well, self explanatory. This event used to be held only in Las Vegas but has fortunately been gaining world wide demand that this year AU was held in quite a few other cities around the globe ahead of the "big one" in Las Vegas. Read about it all HERE.
So what if you can't go to any of these events around the world, for whatever reason, what are your options for getting in on some of these premier teaching opportunities? You are in luck since Autodesk posts all the classes soon after the AU event online for you to access at your convenience, for free, anytime you want it. Just get started HERE.

So why am I going after all these years? First, I feel like I'm stuck in rut trying to cater to the new needs of my office users of AutoCAD/LT/Architecture 2016 for customizations and overall drafting production speeds, and partly because my curiosity about AU has reached a level that needs to be satisfied. I hope I get my money's worth out of it, it's not cheap attending AU2015.

AU2015 will run from December 1 through December 3 this year, and I signed up for many classes on each day. I plan on blogging (and Tweeting) on my daily classes, experiences, events plus my overall Freshman experience at AU.

If you are attending, please seek me out and introduce yourself: in between classes you will most likely find me at the Expert Elites (EE) area of the Autodesk Booth where I and my fellow EEs will be on hand to answer those nagging Autodesk software usage questions you may have or need resolved.

Friday, November 20, 2015

AutoCAD/LT 2016 for Mac (aka Mandalore) is here!

After a very long wait, Autodesk has finally released AutoCAD/LT for Mac version 2016 to the world. Autodesk continues to play catch-up with the Windows version when it comes to program features, and this 2016 version is no exception.

System Requirements

LT remains a resource hog on the Mac, and it's best run on the PRO series of hardware offered by Apple, if you own an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air, Mac Mini or any Mac after the year 2010 (not 2009 in my opinion as they list) it might just work with the correct OS:
  • Mac Pro
  • MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Pro with Retina Display
And with the following Apple Operating Systems:
  • Mac OS X El Capitan v10.11 (or later)
  • Mac OS X Yosemite v10.10 (or later)
  • Mac OS X Mavericks v10.9 (or later)

New AutoCAD/LT 2016 for Mac Features

Core AutoCAD/LT for Windows tools added to the MAC versions
  • CHSPACE - Change objects from model space to paper space or vice versa.
  • PASTEORIG - Paste objects using original coordinates.
  • PASTEBLOCK - Paste objects as block.
Xref Server Path Mapping
  • References stored on Windows server can be found.
  • XREFPATHMAPPING command has been added.
  • Supports reference of DWG, PDF, Image, and datalink.
  • Path mapping edit after creation.
  • Supports all types of disk drives.
  • For new reference, path saves in Windows path pattern if a path mapping is defined.
Properties Inspector Enhancement
  • Add/Remove your favorite properties to "My Properties" tab basing on object type.
PDF Output Enhancement
  • Output PDF size reduced.
  • Truetype font text is recognizable in output PDF.
TrueType Font Performance Improvement In Canvas
  • Zoom/Pan performance improved.
  • Turn on/off this feature with "DTTEXT" system variable.
Revision Clouds
  • More options: Rectangular, Polygonal, Freehand, Modify (similar to Windows versions).
  • Better grip edit experience.
  • Dim command now can add multiple types of dimensions conveniently. One command to do it all.
  • Text wrap in dimensions.
  • Preset the layer of new dimensions by system variable DIMLAYER.
  • New "match property" button on Text Editor visor.
  • New toggle button on Text Editor visor to turn on/off the ruler.
  • New property "Text frame" has been added to enable you to create a border around Mtext objects.
Geometric Center Object Snap
  • Snap to Pline center.
  • Settings available in Draft Settings dialog and OSNAP system variable.
Command Preview
  • Preview the result during a command.
  • Extended to the BLEND, ERASE, STRETCH, ROTATE, and SCALE commands.
Commandline Enhancement
  • Mid-string command search.
  • Autocorrect command input.
  • Turn on/off this feature from commandline context menu.
Graphics Engine (and why non-Pro and older hardware will choke)
  • OpenGL Core Profile is enhanced and now enabled by default on capable graphics card. Improves overall performance, especially in 3D.
Xref Enhancements
  • Able to control the properties of objects in DWG underlay. XREFOVERRIDE system variable to turn it on/off.
  • Xref layers show in grey in Layer palette.
Line Smoothing
  • Anti-aliasing in 2D visual style.
  • Turn on/off line smoothing with system variable LINESMOOTHING.
Selection and Pre-Selection Effect Enhancement
  • More visible selection and pre-selection effect.
Notification Setting
  • Turn on/off receiving AutoCAD messages(except Update notifications) in Notification Center.
Support File Path
  • Clean up the list, some paths removed/hidden from the list.
Cloud Service
  • Cloud Storage Usage is now showing in the Application Preferences dialog Online page.
Multiple Language UI
  • No new Language versions added. Not sure why.
  • Switch UI language(English and French) via Preference dialog.
Express Tools Added (not in LT)

  • Convert Text to Mtext(TXT2MTXT)
  • Break-line Symbol (BREAKLINE)
  • Explode Attributes to Text(BURST)
  • Move/Copy/Rotate (MOCORO)
  • Replace Block…(BLOCKREPLACE)
  • Super Hatch (SUPERHATCH)

Section Objects Added (not in LT)

  • New "slice" option for sectionplane command.
Render Enhancements (not in LT)
  • Provide Cloud Rendering options. RENDERONLINE command.
  • Provide feedback channel for Rendering feature.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Are you curious about the MAC version of AutoCAD/LT? Or a current user looking for basic answers? This blog post will attempt to answer the most common questions you might have about this Apple OS based software (This is not an April Fools post).
  • Where is the Ribbon?
    The MAC version of AutoCAD/LT has an Apple-base user interface that reflects Autodesk's complete rewrite of the program from the ground up. They chose not to implement a Microsoft Windows interface for this new variant: they probably still remember the backlash when, back in the day, AutoCAD for DOS' interface was used on Mac, Unix and Sun workstations much to the dismay of core users of those systems. Other visual differences:
    - All toolbars are accumulated in Tool Sets palette with the ability to switch between tabs with sets of icons.
    - All UI elements could be either floating or docked to the sides of the screen (Tool Sets to the left or to the right: Layers, Properties, Content, References, Projects, Materials palettes to the left or to the right side; Command window and Status Bar to the bottom side).

  • Will I be able to share DWG and DXF files between the Windows and Mac versions of AutoCAD?
    Yes. And it requires no special effort or any change. Just send and receive your files freely.

  • I want to import my custom CUIx file from AutoCAD for Windows to the MAC version, how do I do that?
    Unfortunately there is no such feature in AutoCAD for Mac. You cannot import personal CUI file from PC to Mac.
    If you want to transfer your custom commands or macros from PC to Mac, you need to do this manually with the CUI editor. Note: not all functions are available in the Mac versions and some custom commands (macros) may not work in AutoCAD/LT for Mac.

  • Can I import and use plot style tables (STB or CTB) from AutoCAD in Windows?
    Yes you can: place your plot style table file in the "~/Library/Application Support/Autodesk/roaming/AutoCADversion/Rxx.x/enu/Plotters/Plot Styles" (Library folder in your Home folder); after that it should appear in "Advanced" dialog box of "Page Setup" dialog (or "Print" dialog). You can also try this method HERE.

  • How do I create a new plot style table file in the MAC versions of AutoCAD/LT?Not an option yet: AutoCAD/LT for Mac has no plot style creator/editor available.
    Either ask a Windows version user to create/edit one for you, or use THIS free cad software for mac that allows you to edit CTB and STB.

  • How do I change my DWG file from using STB to using CTB (or vice versa) plot style tables?
    Unlike AutoCAD/LT in Windows, AutoCAD/LT for MAC have no CONVERTPSTYLES or  CONVERTCTB commands to convert named plot styles to color plot styles (or vice versa) "on the fly".
    But there is workaround - if you want to convert STB-based DWG to CTB-based:
    1. Create new drawing using CTB-based template
    2. Copy all objects from your STB-based file and paste it into this new file.
    3. Reverse the process for moving from CTB to STB.

  • How do I add custom or extra fonts to AutoCAD/LT for MAC?
    If these are AutoCAD SHX fonts, than you need to place them inside AutoCAD application folder: find the AutoCAD/LT application in Applications folder on your Mac, right-click on it, select "Show package contents" from context menu. Now type SHX in the Spotlight search field of the current Finder window, then look for the SHX folder in search results, double click to open it. Here you can copy your font files. Restart AutoCAD and now you can use fonts.
    If your fonts are TTF, than you need to place them to the ~/Library/Fonts folder, and don't forget to restart AutoCAD/LT.

  • Can I create PDF files in AutoCAD/LT for MAC? There is no AutoCAD driver installed.
    Yes, you can save (plot) or export to PDF without adding any drivers: the MAC OS is equipped with it by default and is available to all MAC OS programs, explore HERE. Note that there are currently no options to include Layer lists into the PDF.

  • Where are the Express Tools in AutoCAD for MAC?
    There are no Express Tools in AutoCAD for MAC, nor in LT for MAC.

  • How do I change command shortcuts in the MAC version? Is there a PGP file to edit?
    Click the Tools menu > Customize > Edit Command Aliases (PGP). Note: The default PGP file can also be opened by launching Finder, pressing and holding Option, and clicking Go  Library. In the Finder window, navigate to Application Support/Autodesk/Roaming////Support and double-click acad.pgp (or acadlt.pgp for AutoCAD LT) to edit the file. If prompted for an application to use, select TextEdit.
    In the text editor, add your new command aliases to the bottom of the file. Save the PGP file after you make the desired edits.
    In AutoCAD or the AutoCAD LT, click Tools menu  Customize  Reload Command Aliases (PGP).
    Alternate Method: Find the acadlt.pgp file on your Mac: it is in ~/Library/Application Support/Autodesk/roaming/AutoCAD LT Standdalone/Rxx.0/enu/Support folder, then edit it in as described in Help documentation (Help->Customization Guide->Basic Customization->Create Command Aliases.

  • Pressing the F-Keys like F3 and F8 don't work? Delete key doesn't work?
    On a MAC you have to press and hold the fn key first to activate those keys: fn+F3, fn+F8, fn+DELETE activate these keyboard keys while in AutoCAD/LT for MAC.
    For a permanent fix, go to the MAC OS System Preferences > Keyboard >Keyboard and check "Use all F1, F2, etc keys as standard . . . ". You can check the other box for "Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar" so you can jump right to this preferences pane from the Menu bar and change it. While Standard F1 keys is checked, you can hold fn to go back to the special functions (volume control, brightness, etc).

  • I can't find any option for Layer States in my AutoCAD/LT for MAC, why?
    You need to upgrade to AutoCAD/LT2015 for MAC for that ability: older versions offer an older subset using -LAYER command (there is a dash in the name) that is not quite as advanced.

  • Can I create and use Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD/LT for MAC?
    Yes, starting with the 2015 versions you can create and edit Dynamic Blocks. In earlier versions, creating them was not an option.

  • Does AutoCAD/LT for MAC support Retina Displays?
    According to Autodesk, Retina support works as designed only if you set resolution in Mac OS System preferences to "Best for display", which means effective desktop resolution of the standard 15-inch MacBook Pro's 1440 x 900 panel, but with four physical pixels driving every single pixel represented on the screen.

  • There is no eTransmit command: how do I send drawing files to others from the MAC version?
    While that is true for older MAC versions of AutoCAD/LT, you can set up a free AutoCAD360 web account and ships it like THIS to solve it. eTransmit is available in current versions.

  • Where can I download language packs for AutoCAD/LT for MAC?
    To date there are no language packs for any version of AutoCAD/LT for MAC 2015 and lower versions. MAC versions of AutoCAD/LT are only available in English and French.

  • Can I set the mouse middle button in the MAC versions to behave like the Windows version?
    Yes you can, read this AutoCAD Forum thread on the topic HERE.

  • What other commands are missing from AutoCAD/LT for MAC that are found in the Windows versions?
    The following core commands do not exist on the MAC versions as of this blog date: CHSPACE, Geolocation and ADCENTER (Content Palette has some similar, but not all, abilities) are a few of the differences, for more details explore these links for AUTOCAD and LT.

  • Ready to get started? Still not sure?
    Visit this webpage for quick short tutorials to help your Migration From Windows To MAC with AutoCAD/LT. You can also review the AutoCAD/LT Shortcuts Guide ONLINE or as a downloadable PDF.
I would like to thank my fellow Autodesk Expert Elite Maxim Kanaev for his many posts at the Autodesk Forums that made this blog post possible. ◦

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The AutoCAD/LT 2016 Beta Test: stats and more

With this AutoCAD 2016 series release, 2000+ Beta Testers tried it first before you received your download link tis week: they tested it, used it, reported their findings in survey after survey, and did their best to make it stable for you to use. Where you part of the 2000+? If not, we hope that after reading this you will throw your hat in for the next one and join in/participate.

What is Beta Testing? It is Second level, external pilot-test of software before commercial quantity production. At the Beta Test stage, the product has already passed through the first-level, internal pilot-test ( called Alpha Test) where glaring defects have been removed. But since the product may still have some minor problems that require user participation, it is released to selected customers for testing under normal, everyday conditions of use to spot the remaining flaws.

Beta Testing is not about adding features not already there, it's not about addressing previous software version shortcomings, and it's not about making the software perfect for every customer Autodesk has out there.

Here are the stats from Autodesk's AutoCAD 2016 beta testing: note that this was not just for plain AutoCAD, but almost all of it's primary variants as well. Yes, that's more than one software package.

Autodesk reports that a little over 2000 trusted worldwide customers and partners participated in this round of Beta testing. They honest feedback, shared ideas, and reported issues to help make this the best release of AutoCAD possible. From their feedback, many improvements were made and issues fixed.

By participating in this Beta program, these top product experts and best spokespeople offered non-biased advice and commentary on this release.  They filed over 400 problem reports, made over 150 feature requests, filled out more surveys that a normal person does in a lifetime, and actively participated in the beta forums.

Let's do the math: 2000+ users (I doubt that plus sign means there were a million users more) beta testing Three/Four/Fiver variants of AutoCAD 2016 is several countries. You probably run into or pass more people on your daily morning commute to work: these 2000+ users will not be able to test and validate every aspect of every variant and almost impossible for them to meet your exact daily workflow needs. Also remember, these folks also have day jobs, just like you, so their testing is done after hours and on their own time. How much time is free in your workday?
With AutoCAD 2016 out, are you testing it? If you find any flaws, the beta testers probably did not get to it to replicate but all is not lost: you can report these to Autodesk HERE. But ask yourself, would you have spotted this flaw if you were on the beta testing user team? If the answer is yes, why not do yourself and fellow end users a huge favor and join up. With annual releases of AutoCAD, Autodesk should be ramping up for the next round of beta testing during the second half of this year. Sign up now at


Friday, March 20, 2015

LT2016: New, Changed and dropped commands

New AutoCAD LT 2016 Commands and System Variables List:
  • CLOSEALLOTHER command: Closes all other open drawings, except the current active drawing.
  • DIGITALSIGN command: Provides a separate command to add a digital signature to a drawing. Removes the Digital Signature tab from the SECURITYOPTIONS command.
  • GOTOSTART command: Switches from the current active drawing to the Start tab.
  • SCRIPTCALL command: Executes a sequence of commands the same as the SCRIPT command, with the additional capability of also executing nested scripts.
  • SYSVARMONITOR command: Displays the System Variable Monitor dialog box.
  • DIMLAYER variable: Specifies a default layer for new dimensions.
  • DIMPICKBOX variable: Sets the object selection target height, in pixels within the DIM command.
  • DIMTXTRULER variable: Controls the display of ruler when editing a dimension text.
  • GALLERYVIEW variable: Controls the type of preview in the ribbon drop-down galleries.
  • LINEFADING variable: Controls whether line displays are faded when hardware acceleration is on and you have exceeded the line density limits.
  • LINEFADINGLEVEL variable: When hardware acceleration is on, controls the intensity of the line fading effect.
  • REVCLOUDCREATEMODE variable: Specifies the default input for creating revision clouds.
  • REVCLOUDGRIPS variable: Controls the number of grips displayed on a revision cloud.
  • SELECTIONEFFECTCOLOR variable: Sets the color of the glowing highlighting effect on object selection.
  • STARTINFOLDER variable: Stores the drive and folder path from where the product was started.
  • SYSMON variable: Specifies whether changes to system variables values are monitored.
  • WORKINGFOLDER variable: Stores the drive and folder path of the operating system's working folder or current directory for the process.
  • XREFOVERRIDE variable: Controls the display of object properties on referenced layers.

Updated AutoCAD LT 2016 Commands and System Variables LIST:
  • DIM command: Creates multiple types of dimensions within a single command session.
  • OPTIONS command's Online Tab: Automatic saving to your A360 Drive has been removed. Instead, save or copy the drawing files that you want to upload to your A360 account directly to your local A360 Drive folder.
  • PAGESETUP and PLOT commands: now display fully expanded and add PDF options button.
  • REVCLOUD command: Creates a revision cloud. New options for modifying an existing revision cloud and creating rectangular and polygonal revision cloud have been added. Rectangular is the new default revision cloud creation method.
  • UCS, VIEW and -VPORTS commands have been updated to include new features outlined above.

Obsolete AutoCAD LT 2016 Commands and System Variables List:
  • DIM1 command: Obsolete but still included in the product to maintain legacy script compatibility
  • NEWTAB command: Replaced by the Start tab. Use STARTMODE to control the display of the Start tab. Use GOTOSTART or Ctrl+Home to switch focus from the current drawing to the Start tab
  • WELCOMESCREEN variable: Removed.

Watch the AutoCAD LT 2016 New Features Overview Video here
Tour the AutoCAD LT 2016 User Interface


LT2016: Zoom to infinity... and Beyond.

Autodesk announced the release of the 2016 versions of their AutoCAD line on Thursday March 19, 2015. If you are on subscription, and in the correct time-zone with stars aligned in your favor, you might, just might, see a download link as soon as today.  Autodesk's official announcement, as well as website update and the availability of the free 30-day trial downloads, will start Monday March 23, 2015.

There many good updates and additions in this version of AutoCAD/LT 2016, and in this blog, we will highlight the many features we found worth exploring and hope you get excited enough to try them soon.
  • No file format change: bucking a trend they set many years ago, LT2016 will be the fourth version of AutoCAD to still default to the 2013DWG format, just like LT2013, LT2014 and LT2015. For one more year at least you can freely exchange files with those AutoCAD users without having to 'save down'.
  • ZOOM is finally fixed: ever zoom in or out with your mouse' scroll wheel and notice that LT2015 and older would simply stop, forcing you to use REGEN command just to be able to continue? Well, no more my friend: starting in LT2016 you can scroll-zoom so far in or out that you will move your drawing into oblivion. Luckily for us, a ZOOM Extents will snap it all back.
  • Revision Clouds are now object types: no longer are they aimless Pline arcs that are impossible to reuse once created. These now behave like real objects, similar to closed Polygons: make larger or smaller just like you would a closed Pline shape, even add and drop nodes. LT2016 even offers predefined shapes (like Rectangular revision clouds) that you can place around objects in two clicks. Click HERE to see a video of this new feature in action.

  • DIM command: all new, this is no longer that old DOS-days command that forced you to type every style of dimension needed. This one command can be used to totally replace all other individual dimensioning commands combined. Simply start DIM, click on any item and AutoCAD LT2016 will start the correct tool, or just click on two points to draw the dimension. It's that flexible: select a line, an arc, a circle, and angled object, it just knows what to do next.
  • Another great enhancement to dimensioning: if you create a dimension and try to overlap it with another dimension at the same location, a pop-up menu appears that allows you to automatically move (that distance is controlled by the DIMDLI variable), break up that existing dimension, replace it entirely, or just overlap it if you insist on doing so. Click HERE to see these new abilities in action.
  • MTEXT enhancements have been added in LT2016: you can now add a frame, or box, around MTEXT objects, plus there is now the ability to Match Text Formatting inside the MTEXT editor (as well as Mleader text, Dimensions and Tables too).
  • Geometric Center object snap has been added to LT2016: yes, its now a thing, you no longer need to use convoluted methods to find the center of a shape.
  • MOVE and COPY commands have been enhanced in LT2016 to allow you to move a large amount of objects without the hesitation and exceptional slowness now experienced in older versions of LT.
  • LT2016 expands on preview abilities first introduced in LT2015 to help you predict an action before you commit to it: Command Previews have been added to ERASE, STRETCH, ROTATE and SCALE commands, and previewing has also been added to Properties as well (for example, you will see object colors change as you hover over colors to select from in Properties).
  • If LT2016 is installed on a fully supported system that allows for hardware acceleration to be on, you get the option to change the Selection Effect/Drag Color (helpful if the default color is just too dark to see on your monitor).
  • XREF Enhancement: You need to change the display color of objects in your xrefed file to better show off the objects in your top file. So you start LAYER command, change all the layer colors to a dark gray, click Apply, OK out, only to discover the last person to touch the XREF set the object colors to be unique and different from their layer colors. In LT2016, simply turn on the XREFOVERRIDE variable, and your top file will override the display of those objects to match your desired BYLAYER setting without actually changing the referenced file itself. XREF layers also no longer appear inside PROPERTIES Palette since they cannot be selected there (they will remain on display in the Ribbon Layers List but greyed out for quick visual distinction). Click HERE to see a video of these and previous enhancements in AutoCAD/LT2016.
  • LT2016 (and Autodesk) are finally embracing PDF file fully: PDF underlays are more nimble inside DWG files. PDF files from LT2016 now are improved as well: you can search text inside these new PDF files regardless of whether you use TTF or SHX fonts, Unicode Characters, and whether you use MTEXT or TEXT to create those words. Plotting to PDF is now faster with built-in optimizations that better handle complex shapes and hatches. You can also include hyperlinks and bookmarks into your PDF files when your PLOT or PUBLISH to that format.
    PDF options (like whether to turn on layers, set LineMerge and more) are readily available from the PLOT or PUBLISH dialog pop-ups, and PLOT command in LT2016 has (4), yes four, preset different output options for PDF files for you to pick from so you don't have to reset when you need higher or lower resolution results.
  • Layouts have improved in LT2016: when Publishing to multi-page PDFs, the Layouts Names appear are Page Names. You can Drag and Move or Copy Layout Tabs even in the hidden overflow menu (an inability added with LT2015). You can now also dock the Layouts Tabs above the adjacent status line instead of keeping it inline.
  • CLOSEALLOTHER command has been added so you can close all the other open files but keep your current one open.
  • With GALLERYVIEW variable turned off, you can finally hide all the Ribbon previews of Blocks, Text Styles, Dim Styles, Mleader Style and others.
  • HELP has been enhanced to assist you to find where buttons and icons in the Ribbon or the Status bar are located even if there are not visible when you seek them.
  • The new Graphics Engine first introduced in LT2015 has been improved in LT2016 to run better, smoother, and hopefully run better on your system than the previous version. We noticed an improvement on many of our systems.
  • SYSVARMONITOR variable has been added: this is a great way to start keeping an eye on those critical variables that seem to create havoc when they change. LT2016 now gives you, the user, a way to store your favorite setting and show you in a pop-up if that variable has changed. You can add or drop variables from this pop-up as you see fit.

If you have not implemented LT2015 in your office yet for whatever reason, you might want to consider skipping it in favor of this AutoCAD LT2016. In testing to date this seems to be a stable version with new features worth using every day. ◦

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to Explode Text to outlines in LT

Do you ever wish you could get an outline of your text as closed Polylines, but that hollow TTF Windows TrueType Font (or Autodesk's SHX stick fonts) you found on your PC or the internet is just not doing it for you? AutoCAD/LT can do this with the classic WMFOUT command that creates a WMF file with exploded objects, then you use WMFIN command to reimport those exploded objects back in.

Simple. Well, not quite: somewhere between the two commands a little scaling and resizing takes place, and with fonts you also need to tweak and adjust the width or WMFIN will just bring that text back as TEXT entities.

Here is what appears to be a very long method to do it correctly: once you get a hang of the steps, this is indeed quite a simple task.
  1. Setup the text style to use an width other than exactly 1. It can be
    .9999 or 1.000001 for example.
  2. Create the text or use property painter to 'paint' the new info to
    existing text.
  3. Some where in the drawing, create a line that will be used for
    reference later. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
  4. At the command prompt, type WMFOUT.
  5. Select the text and the reference line (real easy if you have the text
    on a separate layer).
  6. Erase (or freeze) the 'real' text but keep the reference line.
  7. At the command prompt, type WMFIN & select the wmf file you just created
  8. Notice the wmf doesn't come in at the same scale - the reason for the
    reference line.
  9. After selecting the base point, use the default scale & rotation
  10. Now, move the block made by importing the WMF so one endpoint of the
    wmf's ref line matches up with the corresponding endpoint of the original
    ref line.
  11. At the command prompt, type SCALE and select the wmf block
  12. For the base point, select the endpoint you used to match up ref lines
    with - the common endpoint.
  13. At the command prompt, type R for reference.
  14. Pick the 'common' endpoint.
  15. Pick the other endpoint of the wmf's ref line.
  16. Lastly pick the other endpoint of the original ref line.
  17. Now you can explode the block and the text should be lines.
  18. If you're using True Type fonts, you'll get lots of little lines. To clean
    it up easily do the following from 19-26 unless you really want to just sit there erasing and cleaning up manually.
  19. After the explode, use CHPROP or PROPERTIES and select the objects with the PREVIOUS selection option.
  20. Put these objects on a layer by themselves for easy removal.
  21. Draw a rectangle around the text.
  22. Use the BOUNDARY command and pick a point between the rectangle and the
  23. Freeze or lock every layer but the layer the text is on and erase it.
  24. Change the boundary you created to that layer for easy removal later
  25. Use the boundary command again and pick "inside" the outline of the
  26. Freeze or lock every layer but the layer the first boundary is on and
    erase it.
You now have the text in a outline that you can use as you wish. Enjoy. ◦

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Favorite AutoCAD/LT social media sites

Do you enjoy reading? Are you interested in topic specific blogs? Have a Twitter account but not sure what to do with it? Google+ not being a plus in your life? What about Pinterest? Facebook? LinkedIn?

In no particular order, we are going to list some of our favorite social media authors and where you can find them on the big wide web. Pick one, pick a few, each is delivered differently so you decide which best suits your needs and lifestyle.

But first, since you are reading our Blog, here are the other locations where we post if you are interested in exploring with us:


If you like a good read, and like to seek them out, blogs are great: they get into a level of detail you can find useful and helpful. Our favorite AutoCAD/LT specific blogs are:

This is a great way to follow others that post often, read what they offer when you want, without going out hunting for them. At 140 character limit, these posts do tend to be short, sweet and to the point. You never have to post anything to stay on, but if you do, remember that the entire planet can see everything you write and post, forever.
Consider following these folks:
  • CADdigest: CAD news from Roopinder Tara and Ralph Grabowski
  • Cadalyst Magazine: Celebrating 30 years of delivering news, advice, tips, and product insight.
  • CAD Setter Out: Tips, Tricks and Tutorials for AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor.
  • AutoCAD Tips: Useful tips and LISP routines for everyday AutoCAD users.
  • CADnotes: Tutorials, tips and tricks to increase students and professionals productivity.
  • BCBENTON: CAD Writer, blogger, trainer & Author of AutoCAD Fundamentals & Advanced AutoCAD Techniques.
  • AutodeskHelp: Customer service crew at your beck & call 24/5 M-F in English. Ask them anything.

Do you live and breathe everything Google? Gmail and Google Apps a part of your daily routine? Google+ is made for you. Not as easy to understand as the other social media sites, and somewhat clunky, it's catching on and worth using if you are already a Google freak.
  • CADnotes: yes, they are even here, you might as well follow them soon.
  • Autodesk: news, views and information about current and future products.
  • Paul Munford: Cad Setter Out owners and blogger.
  • Scott Sheppard: Get the insider scoop from the Labs at Autodesk.
  • CAD-a-Blog: tips and tricks and info about AutoCAD.
  • Autodesk Help: catch them here too, 24/5 M-F.
If you'd rather join and participate in communities instead, consider joining some of these:
  • AutoCAD: Talk about AutoCAD, tech support, wishes, ideas...etc

So if you are not familiar with this social media site, think of it as a visual 'favorites' pin-up board for websites you want to keep track of for future reference. It can be organized into specific categories or if you like it can just be a dumping ground for future reference.

This video website has many Channels dedicated to many items, AutoCAD being no exception Here are some of our favorites:

Not just for connecting with friends and family, many companies and users offer professional pages for you to "like" and connect with other users.
  • Autodesk: They are everywhere.
  • AutoCAD: Tips, news and more.
  • CADXpert: sn interesting page with topics ranging from CAD to just about anything else.
  • AutoCAD Library: Share DWG files with others here.

The site for Professionals to network and stay connected, they also host many professional and software forums like AutoCAD. Check these out:

For sites with no specific host, we recommend the following: